Woman survives night lost in Galtees

MIRACLE woman Rita Hickey said yesterday she survived a night lost in the Galtee Mountains with the help of prayer and a Mars bar.

Rita, 46, from Oola, Co Limerick, was rescued after she stumbled out of dense forestry near Mitchelstown.

Her daughters Claire, 19, Niamh, 17, and Ria, 10, kissed and hugged their mum when she arrived home safely at lunchtime after her 18-hour ordeal.

Rita, who runs a betting shop in Oola, slept under a tree after walking for five hours in total darkness.

Hundreds of civil defence and army personnel and mountain rescue teams joined gardaí and locals in a night-long search.

Clutching a cup of tea in her kitchen, Rita recalled the ordeal.

She and fellow Galtee Walking Club member, Danny Bailey from Tipperary, were on Galtee Mór when they got separated.

She recalled: “It was going on for five o’clock and getting dark. Danny was ahead of me and he kept saying to me ‘Rita, hurry on, hurry on’ I kept telling him I was well able to keep up with him and told him carry on. We were between two lakes at the time and he disappeared. I kept shouting ‘Danny, Danny’. There was no reply.”

It was now dark, and Rita did not know where she was on the mountain.

“I sat down on a rock and said to myself ‘either stay here and freeze or keep walking.’ I kept walking for hours and hours in total darkness through very rough mountainside. I had to cross through gullies and at one stage I had to go across a flooded stream.

“After about five hours I got down into the forest and went to sleep under a tree for about two hours and woke up at around 5.30am.”

Rita said she saw helicopters hovering over the forest but was unable to catch their attention.

After day broke, she trekked through the forestry, eventually finding a main road near Mitchelstown at around 10.30 yesterday morning.

“A local man, Joe Boyle, pulled up in his car and brought me to Tipperary,” said Rita.

As a stream of neighbours called to welcome her home, Rita said: “All I want now is sleep.”

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